Department of Colorado                                                                             

Gar Williams, Department Commander                 (970) 734-5600

PO Box 153                                                 email:gar@coloradolegion.org

Craig, CO 81626

 

 

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

 

For over a year I have been saying that one of the twenty first century problems with our organization, is that we have to get the American Legion out of the post and into the community.

 

Our National Commander, Dave Rehbein has provided us with a very great tool to accomplish this task.

 

In February Commander Rehbein signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, (USAREC). The MOU states that the American Legion will assist the Army in qualifying future soldiers by providing mentoring and tutoring when requested and within the capabilities of the individual post. In exchange USAREC will assist American Legion Posts where ever possible.

 

At first glance this does not seem to be a very important document with little effect on the American Legion or USAREC. The first glance could not be farther from the truth. This document permits and encourages the local recruiters to interact with the American Legion at the Post, District and Department levels. It provides the tools for the American Legion Post to be recognized in the community, expand children and youth programs, the Blue Star Salute, TS2, Boys State, Oritorical Contest, Drug Awareness Programs, National Security, and numerous other programs. The MOU gives the local legion post access to military guest speakers, military displays at Legion events, new members willing to work for the good of the legion family, access to potential Legion, Auxiliary and Sal members.

 

By now you are thinking how does all this work? What is it going to cost my post?  Where does my post fit into this program?  How do I start this process?

 

I will attempt to provide some of the answers to your questions.

 

First, I can tell you that the cost in dollars to your Post is very minimal. It will take a few dedicated and very rewarding hours of your time to become involved in securing the future of our Army, our Nation and the American Legion.

 

The entire relationship process began in September 2008 when Roy Vapp, an American Legion member in Nebraska contacted your Department Commander and suggested working with the Denver Recruiting Battalion. Over the next four months LTC. Medina, Commander of the Denver Recruiting Battalion and his staff worked very closely with the Department Commander and the Office Manager, Elaine Bock to put together the overwhelming Swearing In Ceremony and Purple Heart Presentation at our Mid Year Conference in Denver.

 

In February the Denver Battalion contacted our Office Manager and requested assistance with their Safety Stand down. Through Elaine’s efforts Post 23 donated the use of their meeting room and a group of Boys State supporters, prepared a lunch that raised money for our Boys State Program. With these successes, and the MOU in place, the next step is simply falling into place.

 

Through the Denver Battalion Headquarters, new recruiters are being requested to contact the local American Legion Post when they are assigned to a Recruiting Station in your community. When contacted, the post should welcome these soldiers into the community, assist them and their families with the things that make them welcome.

 

Introduce the recruiter to members of the community, make them feel at home. Inform them of which areas are the best to live, where to shop, who provides the best services, be it a garage, car wash, plumber, electrician, carpenter, babysitter, pre-school, schools or soccer team for their children. Introduce their wife to the Auxiliary members, so that they will “know someone in the community”

 

Auxiliary members can invite the recruiter’s wife to join them for coffee, lunch or shopping. A meal or desert provided when the family is moving in can be most welcome, and can start a lifelong friendship. These simple courtesies cost practically nothing, and at the same time you are creating the support network the military family lost when they left a military installation.

 

Your efforts can help the new recruiter become successful in his mission, which reduces the stress of the long hours, and isolation from the military community. Lower stress levels allow the recruiter to live a happier life and be a productive member of your Legion Post. By doing this we have completed the mission of TS2 and Operation Re-Connect for a military family.

 

At your next meeting, or better yet, create a local media event at the Army Recruiting Office by presenting the Recruiter with an American Legion Certificate of Appreciation signed by the National Commander and National Adjutant, thanking them for their service. This type of media event provides valuable publicity for your American Legion Post and the Recruiter.

 

The recruiters have daily contact with high school students. They meet with these youth frequently. They can identify and direct potential candidates for Boys State, Girl’s State, Oritorical Contest, Legion Baseball and other children and youth programs to the post, making our jobs easier and increasing participation in our programs.

 

Recruiters can supply the post with information on new soldiers, and their families. Armed with this information we, the American Legion should contact the families of new soldiers immediately after the new soldier has reported for duty.

 

We need to present them with a Certificate of Appreciation for their son or daughter’s service, and a Blue Star Banner, while explaining the benefits of “Connecting Military Families” secure web sites for personal communications, and other benefits available to the soldier and his/her family.

 

We are not there to get the family to join the Legion, merely to thank them and provide information. Eventually these families will become supporters of the American Legion, and many will choose to join our ranks after they have seen what we are doing for our military. We are recruiting them by demonstrating that we care for veterans, not asking for membership!

 

The future soldiers that the recruiters will refer to the Legion, Auxiliary and SAL for education assistance, tutoring, and mentoring, will see firsthand what the American Legion Family is about. We are being entrusted with helping them achieve a major goal that they have set for their lives, becoming a United States Soldier.

 

These future soldiers will remember who helped them achieve their first “adult goal” for the rest of their lives. You will become their hero, and they will be proud to join YOUR American Legion Post because you helped them become a soldier.

 

The future soldiers, and the present soldiers are the future of the American Legion, if you do not step up to this mission, you are causing the demise of your American Legion Post, Unit and Squadron.

 

Recruiters can also assist the American Legion by being speakers at Post, Squadron, Unit and District Meetings. Assisting with Honor Guards and ceremonies by providing us with refresher training and access to current information. Your local recruiter can provide you with valuable military updates and other information.

 

Recruiters frequently know what deployed troops need in the way of comfort items, recreation items and support packages, where, how, and to whom to send them to achieve your post’s specific charitable goals.

 

New soldiers frequently contact their recruiter when they are having problems in the military. Unfortunately, the recruiter has access to only the resources that are available the rest of the military to help a soldier once they are in the service. In many cases, the local recruiter can let a post know when help is needed, and an American Legion Program such as TFA can be utilized to assist with the situation.

 

Would you like to have a climbing wall, a military vehicle, a military display or presence at a Legion event, or parade? Your local recruiter can help you with securing these types of project support.

 

Your elected Department Officers, Headquarters Staff, and upcoming Legion, Auxiliary and Sal Officers are committed to making this program work for the benefit of the U.S. Army and the American Legion. Are you willing to do your part to make this program a success?